Just Frame It: How Nike Turned Sports Stars into Superheroes

September 26, 2024–February 23, 2025

For a handful of decades at the end of the last century, one of the most popular ways for a superstar professional athlete to cement their iconic status was to have their persona memorialized on a Nike poster. It became a right of passage, and the posters’ popularity peaked as the Nike brand ascended to the pinnacle of its industry. In an age where athletes’ images are much more accessible and down to earth, these posters may seem quaint—but they’re also larger-than-life and undeniably entertaining, just like the stars they depict.

Chronicling the many professional sports promoted by Nike, from basketball and football to tennis and golf, as well as the myriad athletes who worked with the brand, this exhibition showcases how one company paved the way for modern sports advertising.

Adam Howard is a Senior Producer of The New Yorker Radio Hour. Previously, he was a Senior Associate Producer at the Full Frontal with Samantha Bee show and an Executive Producer of the Full Release with Samantha Bee podcast. Prior to his career in late night comedy and radio, he spent several years as a journalist, writing about sports, pop culture and politics for The Daily Beast, Playboy, NBC News, and theGrio. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of Journalism and studied film history and screenwriting at Bard College. In his spare time, he illustrates his own alternative movie posters and resides in Brooklyn, N.Y.

This exhibition comes to Poster House through a generous loan from Bruce “ImaPaqRat” Fisher.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).


This exhibition is not sponsored, endorsed, or affiliated with Nike.

Selected Images

Poster of a man flying through the air about to dunk a basketball.
Air Jordan/Michael Jordan, 1985
Poster of a football player standing against an ominous background.
Steeler Pounder/Franco Harris, c. 1982
Poster of a basketball player dressed in a tan robe, parting a sea of basketballs.
Moses/Moses Malone, 1984
Poster of a basketball player holding a broken hoop.
Iron Will/Charles Barkley, 1989
Poster of the wingspan of a basketball player.
Wings/Michael Jordan, 1989
Poster of a man leaning against a black convertible in Times Square.
Ace of Hearts/Andre Agassi, 1988
Poster of a tall basketball player holding a bald man by the head off the ground.
The Best on Earth/The Best on Mars, 1989
Poster of a basketball team dressed as Supreme Court Justices.
The Supreme Court, 1984